Secrets of the Temple: Tantric Buddhism at the Wellcome Collection
Thursday 26 November 2015
Lukhang means ‘Temple to the Serpent Spirits’ and has its origins in a vision that came to Tibet’s Fifth Dalai Lama (1617–1682). A serpent-like water deity called a lu appeared to him during his meditations and warned that construction of the Potala Palace was disturbing its subterranean realm.
In an act of reconciliation, the Fifth Dalai Lama vowed to build a temple to appease the lu once the Potala Palace was completed. This promise was fulfilled during the lifetime of the Sixth Dalai Lama (1683–1706) who made the resulting island temple his primary residence.
Once there, he satisfied his controversial preference for romantic trysts and poetic composition over affairs of state. Over succeeding centuries the Lukhang continued to serve Tibet’s Dalai Lamas as a place of spiritual inspiration and contemplative retreat.
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